For the second time in two nights, the Nikiski volleyball team pulled out a five-game win over a nonconference Kenai Peninsula foe.
After defeating Soldotna on Thursday, the host Bulldogs defeated Homer by scores of 23-25, 25-17, 25-15, 21-25 and 15-9.
In the fifth game, the Bulldogs were down 9-4 before they won the ball back on a Homer hitting error. Kyla Jorgensen then served out the last 10 points of the match.
“I don’t want to go to five games anymore,” Jorgensen said after commenting to a passerby about how tired she was. “We have really good team chemistry.
“We’re all friends and we’ve been playing together since the seventh and eighth grade.”
Homer coach Beth Trowbridge and Nikiski coach Bruce King said the tight match was decided more by mistakes than it was by the attacking style of volleyball that both teams would like to display.
“Which team made the fewest errors down the stretch is the team that won,” King said after his team improved to 11-1 overall.
Half of the 10 points on Jorgensen’s serve came off Homer hitting errors. Another came on a passing error in serve-receive, even though Jorgensen said she wasn’t serving aggressively.
“It looked like the front row lost confidence and started to play a little tentative,” Trowbridge said. “They started to send soft balls to the middle, and that gave Nikiski the opportunity to set up an attack.”
It was the first time this year that a Homer match had gone to five games. The Mariners are 4-2 overall.
“We can’t have a rotation where somebody scores 10 points on us,” Trowbridge said. “It was the same players that were making plays earlier in the game.”
While Homer’s miscues played a big factor in the outcome, Nikiski did keep the pressure on in the finishing run with Jorgensen’s consistent serving and solid defense.
“We played really good defense at the end,” Jorgensen said.
Both King and Trowbridge would have liked to see their teams play more consistent and fundamentally sound volleyball. Both teams had a tough time consistently stringing together a well-aimed bump, a perfect set and a strong spike.
“When we do well, it’s because of our passing,” Jorgensen said. “Once we get the passes up, I can set more options.”
In the first game, no team led by more than four points and there were eight ties. With the score tied at 23, Homer’s Rachel Bornheimer and Reba Temple came up with big plays. Temple had several blocks, then had a kill to make the score 24-23. After a diving dig by Bornheimer, Temple closed the match with another kill.
In the second game, Nikiski’s Sherra Pritchard took the floor after not being available for the first game. Maybe it was the presence of Pritchard in the middle, or maybe it was a mental glitch on Homer’s part, but the Mariners attack started to struggle.
Homer had 12 hitting errors in the game. Mix that in with the six kills, stuff block and three service winners of the reliable Hannah Thompson, and Nikiski had little trouble squaring the match.
In the third game, the Bulldogs rolled again as the Mariners had nine hitting errors and two unforced setting errors.
In the fourth game, Bornheimer came alive, putting the finishing touches on eight points. With Homer up 22-20, Bornheimer finished off a long point by somehow taking a Thompson smash and directing it over the net for a winner. On the next point, she had an athletic kill on a second hit. After committing a hitting error, Bornheimer finished off the game with a kill.
Bornheimer started off the fifth game with five kills to get the Mariners their 9-4 lead, but when she went to the back row the lead quickly evaporated.
Clare Bennett led the Bulldogs with 18 digs, while Thompson had 16 digs and Danielle Bower had 16 digs. Thompson had 14 kills, Bennett had five kills and Pritchard had six kills and nine blocks, including three stuff blocks.
For Homer, Bornheimer had 15 kills and Temple had 12 kills. Bornheimer added 16 digs, while Chelsea Owens had 13 digs. Reba Temple had five solo blocks while Jill Temple had four solo blocks.
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